Let me tell you what a great idea is. Scalextric. That’s a good idea. Putting a load of track together creating any course you can dream of so your little cars (with real light up headlights) can go whizzing around your creation. FuturLab also thought this was a good idea and decided to make a virtual reality version for PSVR. I mean finally we can race our cars around tracks that defy gravity, and the laws of physics, this is what we dreamed of as children. But how does the switch from physical to virtual play out?
In case you’re too young to remember Scalextric was simple concept of placing a car with on track and pressing a button on a controller to accelerate. the tracks had two lanes so you and a pal could race each other. It all came down to skill of who would break last and who would take the bends with caution. The exact same principle applies to Tiny Trax, only this time the tracks aren’t just flat figure of eight circuits. They are the most incredibly designed, fantastical creations you have ever seen and look utterly gorgeous in VR. Seeing races take place literally in front of your nose never gets boring. I can’t tell you how good it all looks. Not a bad feat at all considering this is FuturLabs first 3D game!
What sets this apart form Scalextric is how the game plays, there are a few additions that make for a more tactical race than just pressing a button. First of all you get lane switching, a press of a button and you an hop onto another lane, to tactically block your opponent from over taking or, to get a better power slide. There is also a boost gauge (oh how I wished for a boost gauge in Scalextric) This works as expected but runs out pretty quick as the idea is to power slide around the twists and turns so you get in the green zone which will then recharge your boost gauge.
There are six vehicles to choose from all of which are the same except for aesthetics and 12 incredibly designed tracks to race around. From tropical beaches, to lava flowing mountains and hell even one in space. Each one unique and offering new challenges. The game consists of two modes, single player where you race against AI or multiplayer where you can race up to four friends online.
The concept of TinyTRAX is brilliant, and I was so excited to play this new game as we all love FuturLab here at FingerGuns Towers (we really need a new name for that) but there are some issues with the game that stop it from being a fun racer. Let me explain.
In single player mode, it’s simply just too hard. The AI seemingly have cars that are significantly faster than yours literally making it impossible to catch up to them. I played through all 12 tracks in single player mode and the best I came was 3rd (out of 4). I’m not sure what happens but when the races start they all just shoot off in the lead and you can’t catch up. By the time lap two comes along you’re only racing with the third place car, and strangely after getting to the sixth track, I felt a sense of achievement that I had come close to finishing 3rd. As all the cars are the same spec there is no way you can choose a faster car, or a car with better handling to help you out. Thankfully though you don’t have to finish in a certain position to unlock the rest of the tracks. Even if you come last in all the races, you can still enjoy what the game has to offer.
I know this is a slot racer and power ups and speed boosts aren’t really a thing in these games, but seeing as you’re racing Scalextric in space, perhaps the odd speed boost or weapon would be nice addition to help you out. OR hope that FutureLab release a patch that doesn’t make the AI so unbeatable.
It’s not just the AI that makes things a bit tricky. The idea of Tiny Trax is to power slide around corners so you can fill your boost gauge. The trouble with this is it’s a fine line, too fine. slide too much and you all stop, not slow down. Stop. So you have to get the drifting pretty much perfect every time because if you want any hope of catching the pack you’ll need to keep your finger on the boost button or you’ll have no chance of finishing anything other than last.
But, to make things even harder, there is a problem with VR itself. You can sit in your chair and play a game, and some parts of the track are visible and fine so you can see where the turns are and then drift but if you stay in that position, other parts of the track are either obscured by scenery or the perspective makes it hard to see how big or small the bend is so you mess up your slide. This leaves you with the dilemma, do you stay seated and try to style things out, or do you stand up and move around a bit so you can see the parts of the track that were otherwise obscured? I found myself standing up, sitting down leaning, all over the room to catch the best view of the track, probably concentrating more on that than the race itself.
I’m sure races will be much better online (there were no multiplayer matches available at the time of the review) and with a lot of dedication and practice I’m sure races will get easier. It all depends on how much time you want to invest sitting in a virtual world practicing every course. I put in a fair few hours into this game because I wanted to love it, and like I said the best I came was third.
Tiny Trax is a brilliant brilliant concept and FuturLab need to be commended on crafting such a wonderful Virtual World with tracks that are literally out of this world. The VR itself is comfortable, and you never seem to get tired eyes and definitely no motion sickness. Technically on that front it’s top notch. It’s just a shame that the gameplay itself falls short of its potential. I am hoping that some patches will be released in the coming months that will tone down the AI and make the drifting mechanic more forgivable.
Tiny Trax is available now for £12.99 on PSN.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review we were provided with a code for Tiny Trax from the publisher. For our full review policy please click here.